When selling or buying property in Oregon or elsewhere, a deed is needed to finalize the transfer of property. There are several types of deeds out there. This week, this column will briefly go over the different types, what is needed for a deed to be legally operative and what issues with these contracts can do to a real estate transaction.

Generally speaking, there are four different kinds of deeds, which are general warranty, special warranty, quitclaim and special purpose. A general warranty deed is great for buyers as it protects them should anyone claim they have rights to the property after the purchase is complete. A special warranty deed guarantees that the grantor owns and can sell the property and that during his or her ownership no encumbrances were incurred. Quitclaim contracts allow for the transfer of title but do not allow buyers any legal recourse should a problem with the title be discovered. Special purpose deeds come in many forms and are akin to quitclaim deeds.

To be legally operative, deeds must contain certain elements. The list is relatively long, so only a few of these elements will be listed here. Some required elements are:

  • Written contract — verbal contracts are not sufficient
  • Grantor and grantee named in the deed
  • Adequate description of the property included
  • Signature of all parties
  • Delivered to and accepted by the grantee

If any of the required elements are missing or the wrong type of deed is chosen, the seller and/or buyer could pay the price for it down the line. Any number of deed issues can stop a real estate transaction from being completed. Those in Oregon who are in the process of buying or selling property can help themselves avoid various deed issues by turning to legal counsel to ensure the contracts they end up with are free from error, are legally binding and offer the protections one desires.